Michelangelo and Da Vinci in your BI Team

Posted by Karthikeyan Sankaran
Comments (2)
January 3rd, 2010

And if you can onboard a Picasso, Salvatore Dali, Vincent Van Gogh or Claude Monet, go for it! Business Intelligence needs Artists more than ever!

My biggest learning from consulting assignments during 2009 is the increasing emphasis on the artistic elements of Business Intelligence. The first question asked by senior executives across organizations was, “So, how will this finally look?” before any of the other elements in the BI landscape had taken shape.

“Form” had taken center-stage or at the very least is sharing the same elevated platform as “Content”. For BI practitioners like me, who have been using their left brain more than its opposite number, working through architecture, data elements, models, ETL etc. it is time to take a step back and give the right brain its due. Visual Business Intelligence, which deals with data visualization, is rapidly gaining ground and the BI practitioner would do well to pay attention to it.

Stephen Few, one of the foremost experts in this area, writes this way in the wonderful website of his and I quote:

“We are overwhelmed by information, not because there is too much, but because we don’t know how to tame it. Information lies stagnant in rapidly expanding pools as our ability to collect and warehouse it increases, but our ability to make sense of and communicate it remains inert, largely without notice.

Computers speed the process of information handling, but they don’t tell us what the information means or how to communicate its meaning to decision makers. These skills are not intuitive; they rely largely on analysis and presentation skills that must be learned”.

So true! Yet, I do feel that visualization is not carried out with the same rigor as done for other pieces of the BI landscape, in many organizations. For example, I have seen Data Modelers, ETL architects, Reporting specialists in BI teams but haven’t come across a role of “Visualization Specialist” or “BI Usability Architect” in the BI space. And I think that day is not far off!

Given below are some resources that I found extremely interesting from the Visual BI standpoint (am sure that there are many more!)

1) Stephen Few’s website
2) Infosthetics
3) Gapminder
4) Dashboard Spy
5) Amazing number of BI gadgets & widgets that can be found across the web (Easiest to try out are the Google gadgets – Load sample data in Google spreadsheets, insert gadgets like motion charts and get going!)

Going back to the title of this blog post, who knows, dashboards developed by BI visualization experts might be auctioned at Sotheby’s for multi-million dollars in the future!

Wish you all a very happy new year 2010.

Thanks for reading. Please do share your thoughts.

Comments (2)

illiyaz mohammad (ex-hexawarian) - February 9th, 2010

A very very valuable point made !!!! What is the point in having tons of information if it cannot be assimilated easily...

Michelangelo and Da Vinci in your BI Team | Business Intelligence | Management Business Wisdom - January 3rd, 2010

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